European Council on Foreign Relations

What can the Cold War teach us about applying sanctions to Russia?

After the MH17 plane crash, the West once again has to wrestle with the question of what to do with the defiant regime in the Kremlin. Diplomacy is not at the moment effective, but military options are unthinkable. Only economic sanctions will send a strong signal both to Moscow and to the outraged Western electorate. It is no wonder that the last meeting of European foreign ministers went further than asset freezes and travel bans for Vladimir Putin’s “cronies”. The ministers also considered “sectoral sanctions” that would target individual segments of Russia’s economy. They left open the option of placing an embargo on exports of “dual use goods and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector”.

However, economic sanctions are always controversial – and they are often not as effective as promised. The last time the West applied economic sanctions against the Kremlin was

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Hamas and Israel: why a paradigm shift is needed

Israeli military flare is seen in an area east of Gaza City on July 21, 2014. © ZUMA PRESS INC./ Alamy

Since the beginning of the latest round of confrontations between Hamas and Israel, the debate in both local and international media has understandably focused on the conditions needed to achieve a speedy end to the conflagration and deliver a ceasefire. Yet, while stopping the violence should indeed be a priority, it is just as important to develop policies for the post-ceasefire period that will ensure that the end of hostilities amounts to more than a temporary lull.

Indeed, the relationship between Hamas and Israel since 2007 has followed a repetitive pattern, with periods of relative quiet followed by recurrent short-term military escalations. Likewise, Israel’s overall policy toward Hamas has undergone very little change, focusing as it has on the political isolation of

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Why a Gaza cease-fire could reinforce long-term conflict

Viewed in isolation, Israel's current “Operation Protective Edge” has relatively modest ambitions. It's not envisaged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a game-changer; more like another round of what is known in the Israeli security establishment as “mowing of the lawn” — a periodic degrading of Hamas' military capacity. Netanyahu's other strategic goal is to disrupt the fledgling effort at Palestinian reconciliation between the key rival national organizations, Fatah and Hamas. Even Israel's ground incursion has set the limited goal of destroying tunnels and rocket launching sites.

Hamas, too, does not believe its rocket fire will fundamentally reframe the Israeli-Palestinian equation — indeed, it made clear at the outset that this was a confrontation it preferred to avoid. The movement has been so squeezed by its isolation in Gaza, intensified by the hostility of Egypt

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Pushing for pluralism in Tunisia

Ennahda MPs at the Tunisian Constituent Assembly. CC Moumou82/ Flickr

This article was originally published in Muftah.

After weeks of deadlock over a new electoral law and continued disagreement over the electoral calendar, Tunisia’s political class is gearing up for legislative and presidential elections that will be held this October and November, respectively. During the constitution-drafting process over the last two years, ideological tension stifled consensus. And while the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) approved a much-lauded constitution this past January, the transition’s volatile three years have left Tunisia with a fragmented political blueprint.

However, as politicians prepare for the upcoming electoral contest, partisanship in Tunisia hardly seems to have changed since first emerging after the fall of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in early 2011. Small parties from

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ECFR wins Prospect UK International Affairs Think Tank of the Year award

The European Council on Foreign Relations is proud and pleased to announce that it has been selected as 2014's UK international affairs think tank of the year by Prospect Magazine

ECFR was complimented by the judges for its "excellent work on Russia and Ukraine." One judge commented that "the organisation seemed to be looking in the right direction even before trouble started in Ukraine, and its response to the crisis has been exemplary. Its identification of a Russian 'pivot' away from the west and towards Asia was an especially astute observation, codified in a series of essays by Russian experts." The judges also noted that ECFR "was quick to recognise the extent of the threat posed by civil war in Syria, and identified the potential for that war to spread to neighbouring countries."  

Prospect’s editor, Bronwen Maddox headed the jury, which

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